Email marketing can be challenging. Whether your online business skews toward ecommerce or blogging, you need to plan your approach to email marketing carefully in order to succeed. Here are the basic foundations you need to get started…

Develop a solid strategy

If you operate in the digital marketing space and don’t have an email newsletter strategy you are potentially missing out a key method to drive traffic to your platform or website. While it is of course not the only digital marketing solution, if you can crack email newsletter marketing, you will be able to build a loyal following – and effectively monetize your databases.

Like most digital marketing, the best way to do that is to develop a solid strategy and tactics to achieve your goals.

First, establish your objectives:

Overall, do you want to increase engagement, brand awareness, increase traffic or convert sales by using email newsletters? Prioritise your objectives and choose your platform, strategy and tactics accordingly (see Email Newsletter Tips below for more).

Remember, there are always two ongoing phases of email marketing:

  • To build an audience – i.e. attract people to sign up to your email newsletter
  • To achieve your goals in doing so, for example, are your emails going to be used to sell products on an ecommerce website or to drive traffic to a crowdfunding campaign?

Apart from mapping your goals and objectives, as this stage also ask yourself: 

  • Who are you talking to and why? 
  • What are you going to offer them? 
  • Why should they feel compelled to sign up for your newsletter in the first place? 

10 Subscriber Acquisition Tactics

There are a variety of tactics you can use to convert users to subscribers. We have focused on the most affordable and practical for ecommerce start-ups with limited resources – money and time, which are always in short supply.

1. Post lots of great content

The eponymous mainstay of ‘content marketing’ – good articles, photos, videos and graphics that appeal to your audience, are an absolute must.

If your audience engages with, enjoys and – most importantly – finds your content useful or helpful, they will be more inclined to click subscribe. 

2. Create effective newsletter lead forms

To convert visitors into subscribers, place your email newsletter subscription lead forms in prominent locations throughout your website, including but not limited to:

– Landing pages

– Pop ups

– Banners


All subscription lead forms must make the user want to sign up, so they must be well designed, with an effective call to action (CTA). 

These forms do not all have to be the same and the design and text can vary depending on where and how the lead form appears on the site, whether it is linked to a focused campaign or sales drive – or is simply aimed at converting organic visitors browsing your platform. 

3. Provide Useful Downloads

Downloadable files are a great way to offer value in return for a user’s email address. These can range from ‘white papers’ (longer documents offering information or advice); general tips and guides (fitness exercises, recipes etc); to fun things like cut out or colouring in templates for kids if yours is a parenting blog, for example.

4. Conduct Surveys 

Conduct interesting online surveys or even quizzes on subject matter that your audience will find compelling / interesting enough to spend a few minutes filling out. Most survey platforms (Survey Monkey, Google Forms etc) provide the facility for an opt in email address sign up – though it is up to you to craft an intriguing survey and make a good case in the copy for the user to provide you their email address at the end.

The results of the quiz can also make for follow up content for a blog post or social media post, possibly using infographics (“X% of people said…”)

6. Create a Competition or Giveaway

Create and share competitions / giveaways / draws that users will have to provide their email address to enter. This could be an individual product, product hamper, free add on etc. Though competition entrants are generally regarded as lower-quality leads, especially for ecommerce, it is an effective way to add email addresses to your database.

Tip: If you are crowdfunding or launching a new product you can also offer an ‘Early Bird’ discount in return for a user’s email address.

7. Use Promo Codes

Offer new and / or existing subscribers access to discounts using promo codes, which are a special code they can use at check out for a percentage off their purchase or free shipping, for example.

8. Encourage sign ups on social media

Some social media channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn allow users to subscribe directly to your email newsletter from your business page or profile. Ideally these should link to an email newsletter sign up landing page on your website. These will also need to ideally be synched with your email newsletter platform of choice (see next blog – Beyond Mailchimp)

9. Post On Social Media

Encourage your followers on social media to sign up for your email newsletter, using one of the above email newsletter acquisition tactics. 

10. Share on Social Media

You can post recent or archive email newsletters on your social media channels so that your followers can read your previous emails to your subscriber databases.

5 Great Email Newsletter Tips

Intend on sending out regular email newsletters to your database? Here are some tips:

1. Make a Plan (and stick to it)

Plan your email schedule and content meticulously and be sure to stick to by sending out regular email newsletters. Their frequency can range from one a day to bi-monthly – depending on the audience, content and your business objectives – but be wary of flooding your subscribers’ email inboxes with too many unnecessary messages lest they unsubscribe.

2. Include Calls to Action

Each email should contain at least one Call to Action (CTA). Use effective copywriting in your email to give subscribers a good reason to click any links in your email. 

3. Offer a promo code or gift card 

These can be effective for both acquisitions and sales and can take the form of a closed promo code valid for subscribers only for example, to an open ended code that can be shared and used by anybody, to a gift card or similar. These offers can include:

  • Discount on all products
  • Discount on select products
  • Free shipping over a certain amount
  • Free shipping for all items 

Note that with most ecommerce platforms, parameters can be set on promo codes or gift card promotions, such as limiting the code to one per user; single or multiple uses by any user; or time limits to any offers.

4. Ask your subscribers to share your email

Encourage your audience to share your email newsletter or campaign with other people in their network who they think may benefit from whatever you are offering. This could be done in conjuction with a promo code, for example.

5. Say Thank You

Make sure there is a Thank You page that appears immediately and send out a confirmation message to their email once a new user has signed up to your database.

Next time we will investigate the many email newsletter platforms available (besides MailChimp).

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